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Lighthizer’s Senate committee vote on hold until after the spring recess

The confirmation of Robert Lighthizer, President Trump’s nominee to lead the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, will have to wait until after the two-week spring recess.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said Thursday morning that the panel wouldn’t have the required number of members to convene, pushing Lighthizer’s consideration to late April after Congress returns from the break.

{mosads}Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), the top Democrat on the panel, was the lone member of his party to show up for the panel’s meeting on Thursday.

Wyden said that Democrats’ concerns about the nomination to be addressed.

Despite the delay and lack of an agreement on how to proceed, Wyden expressed confidence “that we can find a way to have a positive, strongly bipartisan markup of Mr. Lighthizer.”

Democrats’ are insisting on a two-pronged approach to moving Lighthizer’s nomination through the panel and eventually to a vote in the Senate.

They argue that the confirmation of the Washington lawyer and the former deputy trade representative under President Reagan requires a congressional waiver because Lighthizer represented foreign governments in trade negotiations in the 1980s and 1990s.

And they want that waiver tied to legislation that would guarantee retirement and healthcare benefits to nearly 23,000 retired coal miners.

Hatch has said he is willing to consider the waiver even though he disagrees that one is needed. But he has called Democratic attempts to link a waiver to the unrelated miners bill an “unprecedented” move.

Members of both parties on the panel have said they support Lighthizer’s nomination because they expect him to crack down on countries that try to skirt global trade rules.

Tags Office of the United States Trade Representative Orrin Hatch Robert Lighthizer Ron Wyden Senate Finance Committee

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